Just in Chronicles

Life as a Voyage

Toastmasters

Toastmasters club is one of well known English speech clubs in the world. It spreads out all over the world, even in Korea. There are, of course, hundreds of toastmasters clubs in Melbourne.

I’ve heard about this club about two years ago, from one of my mentors from Monash Alumni Mentoring Programme. He recommended me to join the meeting during the period of the programme. However, there were thousands of reasons hesitating me to join the club such as "I’m too busy now", "It seems to be scary to attend", "I’m lazy to get there", and so forth, and so forth…

Well, eventually I went to the meeting today. I chose one of clubs nearest from my office. Before getting there, I was very nervous and nail-bitten. "What will happen if I’m not able to get understood?", "How can I jump in their chatting?", "I might say nothing in the meeting." It was, however, just an unnecessary anxiety. Members in the club was so supportive and constructive to each other.

Today, there were four guests, including me, joining this meeting. The meeting took an hour and all events were progressed in timely manner. Basically, toastmasters meeting is all about speech. All participants are advised to give their speech in a given time. From opening speech by today’s toastmaster via five to ten minutes main speech with given topics, impromptu (on the spot) speech of 90 seconds, and evaluation speeches to closing speech, all activities in the meeting were conducted by speech.

As a guest, even though I didn’t have to participate in a speech, I also delivered a short address with a given theme for just a 30 seconds or slightly longer. I am confident with giving public speeches in Korean resulted from lots of experiences. However, English speech is another thing because it’s not my mother tongue. Well, even though it was just a very short address, I was encouraged to do so and, I believed, I coped with it.

Another thing I was interested in is that there are other roles involving the meeting, other than speakers. Evaluators point out what speakers did well and what they need to be improved such as gestures, tones, voice vibrations, eye contacts and so on. A Gruntmaster checks what participants did unnecessary things like wrong gestures, "ah~" sounds and so on, which are actually avoided while giving a public speech. A Harkmaster checks how much extent participants courteously listened to the speech by asking five to ten short quizzes based on the speeches. A Time-keeper counts each participant’s speech time by a stop watch. According to the manual, there are other roles to go the meeting seamlessly.

My first impression about the meeting was that all members in the meeting today liked to listen to others, give humours during their speech, which is fantastic, and be very reactive. The second feeling was that they didn’t evaluate the topic of a speech but do evaluate the structure of the speech, and provided constructive feedbacks immediately. Maybe I’ll get tens of feedbacks after my first speech soon, but it should be my opportunity to get myself improved. The last impression was that they had no hesitation with the impromptu speech. The questions for the on the spot speech were not easy to convert their thoughts to a short speech immediately. However, they successfully dealt with them, which would be very useful for job interview skills.

I’ll have another club meeting next week and make a decision which club to join – maybe both. The purpose that I join in the club is improving my communicating skills. I have no idea if it would be successful or not by taking part in the club. However, I’m sure that it’ll get me out of uncertain fear of speaking in English.

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Written by Justin Yoo

02/09/2009 at 12:42

6 Responses

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  1. I think you did good experience today. This is the very good chance of step stone to improve your real English. I am sure of your smooth launching of this club in a sooner day.

    SUNG HWAN CHOI

    02/09/2009 at 13:21

    • Thanks. For sure, I’ll get landed on the club smoothly.

      Justin

      02/09/2009 at 15:55

  2. INVU You already command a proficient written English. I reckon you will achieve highly fluent spoken English just by their systematic approach to improving English communication skills. Catch you l8er.

    gonagi

    02/09/2009 at 21:43

    • Thanks for encouraging me! I hope so.

      Justin

      02/09/2009 at 23:59

  3. Wow…I think that time was cool to you. I’d like to join that kind of meeting in Melbourne near future. Thank you very much.

    Marty

    03/09/2009 at 02:05

    • Yes, it’s very nice to me. Once you get arrived in Melbourne, why not joining this sort of meeting near from your place? 🙂

      Justin

      03/09/2009 at 03:03


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